The Western Australian (WA) Government has allocated A$4.5m ($2.8m) to International Graphite for the establishment of a graphite processing plant in Collie.

The announcement was made by WA Premier Roger Cook at the Collie Industry Transition Expo.

Cook said: “Global demand for battery materials is soaring, and Collie will be home to a nation-leading battery materials production facility – ensuring the town remains a vital part of our energy future.

“Importantly, this project will create quality, long-term industrial jobs in the heart of Collie, helping to diversify the local economy and supporting the town’s transition away from coal. We are backing Collie’s future, creating local jobs and delivering a strong economy for generations to come.”

Graphite is a critical component in the production of anode materials for lithium-ion batteries, which are pivotal in the operation of electric vehicles and large-scale energy storage systems.

In February this year, International Graphite started operations at its pilot graphite micronising plant in Collie with a A$2m grant from the WA Government.

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The company is now set to escalate to full commercial production.

The additional funding will facilitate the scaling up of operations while contributing to the creation of 20 new full-time jobs in Collie.

International Graphite aims to complete the building of its operations within 18–24 months.

Upon completion, the commercial-scale micronising facility is expected to produce up to 4,000t annually.

Moreover, an extra A$2m is earmarked to advance a feasibility study for a dedicated battery anode material facility in Collie.

This development would position International Graphite as the first fully integrated battery anode graphite processing enterprise in WA, encompassing the entire process from mining at Springdale to micronising and precursor material production in Collie.

The project is set to generate a sustainable industrial job market in Collie and cement the town’s role in WA’s transition to a leading clean energy hub.

International Graphite chairman Phil Hearse said: “We are thrilled by the support and leadership the Western Australian Government is providing to our emerging critical minerals industry and proud of their confidence in us to deliver real benefits for Collie and the State.

“The grants are designed to encourage innovation in three areas – green manufacturing, minerals processing and energy intensive or future clean energy initiatives. International Graphite’s operations support all three, making our project an extremely good fit with the government’s priorities for the industry and the region.”